5 August 2010
©Reuters/ AlertnetThe toll from Pakistan's worst floods in 80 years continues to climb, with official sources putting the number of dead at more than 1,500, with 80,000 homes damaged. The United Nations estimates that more than 4 million people have been affected by the floods.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has already reached around 50,000 people with aid. It expects to reach 250,000 people in total with aid over the coming weeks.
Floodwaters have destroyed much of the health infrastructure in the worst affected areas, leaving inhabitants especially vulnerable to water-borne disease.
"One of our priorities at the moment is to do what we can to prevent the spread of water-borne disease," said Bernadette Gleeson, an International Committee of the Red Cross health delegate based in Islamabad.
"We are also striving to boost the capacity of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society to take appropriate action in the event of any outbreak of water-borne infectious disease. By restoring water systems to working order and distributing such items as soap and wash basins, we hope to ward off many of the health problems that could arise if large numbers of people had to use contaminated water supplies."
British Red Cross response
The British Red Cross has pledged an initial 5,400 jerry cans, 5,400 blankets and 2,700 tarpaulins to the relief effort. To get the goods on the ground as quickly as possible, they will either be bought locally in Pakistan or shipped in from pre-positioned relief supplies in Kuala Lumpur.
Two of the mobile health clinics the British Red Cross already operates in Pakistan as part of the ongoing healthcare programme there have been deployed to assist with the relief operation in one of the worst-affected parts of the Balochistan region.
Unfortunately, reports also suggest that some of the infrastructure set up by the British Red Cross to provide clean drinking water to rural communities in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake has been damaged or destroyed by the floods.
Pakistan Floods Appeal
In addition to launching a public appeal for funds, the British Red Cross released £50,000 from its Disaster Fund to provide immediate relief to survivors. The appeal has also been bolstered by donations from Red Cross partners, including Tesco, AstraZeneca and the Freemasons’ Grand Charity.
In the event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.